WASHINGTON –– President Donald Trump has told Republicans not to approve funding for a $12.9 billion commuter railroad tunnel under the Hudson River, a major priority of Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Trump doesn't want to advance the Gateway project, which would provide a rail link between New York and New Jersey, in part because Schumer, D-Y.Y., held up the nomination of several of Trump's nominees, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Committing money to Gateway also runs head-on into the philosophy that's driven Trump's push for a trillion-dollar public works plan: that states and municipalities should bear more of the cost, and the federal government less, for fixing and upgrading U.S. infrastructure.
Trump talked to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on the subject last week, said two people with knowledge of the discussion. Trump told Ryan that he wants to make sure there's no federal funding earmarked for Gateway. So far that view hasn't been widely disseminated to the Republican rank-and-file, though, including House members facing tough re-election campaigns.
Given his view on how infrastructure should be paid for, it's not a huge shock that Trump would oppose Gateway. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also is known to have reservations about sinking a lot of money into the project.
But it casts new doubt on what President Barack Obama's administration and Schumer both described as the most urgent American infrastructure need.
Gateway would supplement a decaying century-old tunnel further damaged by saltwater flooding from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. That tunnel provides the only direct train link between New Jersey and Manhattan for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak, and helps bind the entire Northeast corridor to the New York area.
Rep. Peter King, a Republican who represents parts of New York's Long Island, said the president shouldn't make Gateway funding about his animus toward Schumer.
"Trump must keep his commitment to Gateway which he made in White House last September. Essential to New York & Northeast," King said Saturday on Twitter. "Can't let feud with Schumer hurt New York & United States. Bad enough we got screwed on tax bill."
There was no response Saturday from the office of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, whose affluent suburban district is home to many people who commute into New York City.